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What Research Shows About Female Adolescent Sex Offenders

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2004
3 pages
Based on the limited research available on female adolescent sex offenders (ages 13-17), this paper reports on the prevalence, characteristics, assessment, and treatment of these offenders.
Given the variability of sexual offenses committed by female adolescent sexual offenders ASOs, this paper recommends that treatment and placement decisions be made case-by-case. Although the illegal sexual behavior should be a primary component of their treatment, posttraumatic stress disorder or depression may need to be addressed, depending on individual treatment needs and personal history of childhood abuse. Research indicates that the average female ASO is 14 years old and shows greater variation in sexual arousal and behavior patterns than adult male/female sex offenders. Their most common sex offenses are not aggressive, typically involving mutual fondling. The typical victim is a 5-year-old child who is an acquaintance or relative. Male and female children are apparently at equal risk for sexual victimization by female ASOs. Female ASOs are similar to their male counterparts in the diversity of their illegal sexual behaviors; however, they differ from male ASOs in their physical and sexual abuse history. Female ASOs have usually experienced more extensive and severe physical and sexual abuse as children than have male ASOs; they are more likely to have been sexually abused at younger ages and to have had multiple perpetrators. The sexual and nonsexual reoffending rates for female ASOs are not known. Currently, there is no evidence to support either the use of traditional male ASO treatment methods with female ASOs or their inclusion in male ASO group treatment programs. Suggestions are offered for future research. 14 references

Date Published: January 1, 2004